This tofu soup is quick, tasty, and easy. You can make it in 20 minutes, with simple ingredients and seasonal veggies any time of the year.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make the best, simplest, tofu soup with ideas for spring, fall, and winter.
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What to expect
Our tofu soup is an Asian-Inspired dish that you can make with very basic and simple ingredients as an everyday dinner in less than 20 minutes. You can also customize it with your favorite seasonal vegetables (we show you options for all seasons) and infuse it with a drizzle of chili oil.
You'll love this tofu soup because it's incredibly tasty, yet very healthy, with a good balance of protein, vegetables, and fats. It's also fast, easy, customizable, simple to make gluten-free if you need to, and perfect as an everyday meal.
The recipe is light yet, fulfilling, and if you want to make it even more satiating you can add your favorite noodles to it. We love it with rice or soy noodles.
We keep this recipe vegan, so without pork, beef, chicken, egg, or shrimp, and instead use tofu as our main source of healthy fats and plant-based proteins.
Ingredients and Substitutions
These are the ingredients we always use to make this tofu soup. They make a flavorful base that you can then customize with your favorite fresh vegetables and noodles.
- Tofu: you can use most types of tofu for this soup, depending on your taste. We like to use firm tofu or extra-firm tofu. Soft tofu and silken tofu are also suitable for this recipe.
- Mushrooms: we use white button mushrooms to keep this recipe as simple and affordable as possible. Other types of mushrooms you can use are brown mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, and enoki mushrooms.
- Dried mushrooms: dried mushrooms are an important ingredient to add flavor and umami to the soup. We recommend using mixed dried mushrooms, dried shiitake mushrooms, dried porcini mushrooms, or dried oyster mushrooms.
Dried mushrooms are a key ingredient in this soup because of their concentrated flavor. They need to be soaked first in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes. Their soaking water should also be added to the soup, so do not discard it because it's incredibly flavorful.
- Ginger, garlic, and red chili pepper: we use these three ingredients together to build a rich flavor base for the soup. The ginger and garlic should be finely chopped. You can add more or less chili pepper based on your spice tolerance. You can also replace red chili pepper with chili powder, gochugaru, red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper.
- Olive oil: we use olive oil to fry the ginger, garlic, and chili. You can replace olive oil with any other vegetable oil.
- Soy sauce: to add sapidity, flavor, and umami. You can replace it with tamari sauce for a gluten-free alternative.
- Vegetable broth: we generally use pre-made vegetable broth, especially if we want to make this tofu soup as an everyday dinner. But of course, you can make your own vegetable stock from scratch if you like.
- Salt and black pepper: based on your tastes.
- Cilantro and scallion: we love adding some fresh cilantro and some finely sliced scallion or spring onion on top of the soup. They both add freshness and garnish the tofu soup. You can replace them with parsley, lemongrass, green onions, and chives.
- Sesame oil: this is optional, but if you have it handy you can add a few drops on top of the soup just before serving it.
Other Ingredients (pick two or more)
These are some of the ingredients you can choose to customize your soup based on the season and on your personal taste. We recommend combining two of these vegetables. For example:
- Snow peas and asparagus: perfect for a spring variation of this tofu soup.
- Zucchini and bell pepper: ideal for the summer, when these ingredients are in season.
- Broccoli, frozen peas, and spinach: perfect for fall and winter.
- Noodles: want an even more fulfilling soup? Try adding rice noodles, soy noodles, or any other type of Asian noodles to it.
- Other veggies: these are just our suggestions, you can add other seasonal vegetables available in your local grocery store. Try kale, napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage, chard, sweet potatoes, and even kimchi.
Prep the mushrooms
The first step to make this vegan tofu soup is to soak the dried mushrooms with a cup of hot water for 5 minutes. Don't discard the soaking water as we'll use it later. It's packed with flavor.
In the meantime, chop the fresh mushrooms. I like to chop them quite chunkily as they'll shrink a little when cooked.
Make the flavor base
Finely chop the garlic, ginger, and red chili pepper. You can also grate the garlic and ginger if you prefer.
To a large skillet with high edges, or to a pot, warm up the olive oil, then add the finely chopped garlic, ginger, and chili. Fry gently for about a minute without burning the garlic.
Squeeze the dried mushrooms, cut them up with scissors if the pieces are too large, then add them to the skillet. Reserve the soaking water. Add the chopped button mushrooms too.
Add the soy sauce, season with salt and pepper, and let cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat stir-frying the mushrooms until they start releasing their water. Stir often.
Add the broth
Now add the vegetable broth and the soaking water from the dried mushrooms. I recommend passing it through a sieve as there could be some small sand debris in it.
Set to medium-high heat until the liquid boils, then turn it down to medium-low and add diced tofu - firm or extra firm.
If you use soft or silken tofu, you might want to scoop it out from its box with a spoon instead of cutting it with a knife.
This is the base recipe for this delicious tofu soup. You can now add your favorite veggies and noodles to customize the soup to the season and to your liking.
Add the vegetables
You can really add any of your favorite veggies to this tofu soup. Here we add snow peas and asparagus for a delicious spring tofu soup. Cut the asparagus into small pieces.
Let the soup boil gently for about 10 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked but not too soft. Cooking time varies based on the vegetables that you use, but it's generally around 10 to 15 minutes max.
Serve in a bowl and garnish with freshly chopped scallions and cilantro. Optionally you can drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil or olive oil.
Late spring/summer tofu soup
Try adding chopped zucchini and frozen peas instead of the snow peas and asparagus. This is a great late spring/summer variation for this vegan tofu soup.
Fall and winter tofu soup
Do you want to make tofu soup when it gets colder outside? Try using fall or winter vegetables. Depending on where you live you can add broccoli, spinach, or napa cabbage.
Here we tried it with spinach and broccoli and it's absolutely delicious! The broccoli should be cut into small florets.
Tofu soup with noodles
Noodles are a perfect addition to this soup. Try adding rice noodles or soy noodles. They cook in less than 10 minutes, just read the package instructions, add them to the soup with the vegetables and here you go.
This is an easy, healthy, and fulfilling variation, and it's definitely my favorite one.
Korean Tofu Soup with Kimchi
Soft tofu soup with kimchi is a Korean-inspired tofu soup that is absolutely delicious, but a little more particular than our classic tofu soup. This version is inspired by Korean soft-tofu stew (Sundubu Jjigae). We don't claim this is the original version, it's just our adaptation, but it's absolutely delicious and easy to prepare.
To make it, you'll need kimchi instead of mushrooms. Kimchi is a Korean dish generally made with fermented napa cabbage. Fry the chopped chili (or Korean red pepper flakes, or Gochujang), finely chopped garlic, and finely chopped ginger in oil for a minute.
Add kimchi and soy sauce and fry for another couple of minutes, stirring often. You'll need about 1 cup of kimchi and its juice.
Now add the vegetable broth and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Generally, this soup is served with soft tofu, but we often make ours with regular firm tofu (I know, not original but still delicious).
We also like to add extra veggies to the soup, like broccoli or mushrooms (Enoki mushrooms are particularly good in this recipe).
Yes. Tofu can be used in soups. You can use soft tofu, silken tofu, firm tofu, and extra-firm tofu.
Yes. You can put raw tofu in the soup and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to warm it up and give it some flavor. Tofu can be eaten raw, so it's no problem to add it raw to soups.
Any kind of tofu is good for soups. It depends on the dish you are trying to make and on your taste. In Korean tofu soups, you can use soft tofu, in some Chinese soups you can use silken tofu. In westernized tofu soups you can use firm tofu or extra firm tofu.
Yes. Tofu soup is healthy as it contains plenty of nutrients, vitamins, and vegetables.
It depends on the type of tofu. You can dice firm and extra firm tofu. Soft tofu and silken tofu can be spooned out of their box and added to the soup, instead of cutting them with a knife.
Keep this vegan tofu soup in the refrigerator, ideally in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.
Warm it up on the stovetop or in the microwave. Before serving garnish with fresh scallions and cilantro.
You can also freeze the soup for up to 3 months. To freeze tofu soup let it cool down first, then transfer it to a freezer-friendly container, leaving some space to allow the soup to expand.
Thaw in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop. Before serving, garnish with fresh cilantro, scallions, and a drizzle of sesame oil.
- ¾ cup dried mushrooms mixed, shiitake, or porcini
- 8 ounces mushrooms white, brown, or portobello
- 1 cup warm water to soak the dried mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped or grated
- 1½ inches ginger peeled and finely chopped
- ½ red hot chili or ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt or more to taste (it depends if your broth is already salted)
- 2 twists black pepper
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 9 ounces tofu firm or extra firm
- 3 scallions finely sliced
- 1 handful cilantro coarsley chopped
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil (optional)
Vegetables (pick two or more)
- 1 cup snow peas
- 1 cup asparagus
- 1 cup broccoli
- 1 cup zucchini
- 1 cup bell pepper
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- 3 handfuls spinach
- 7 ounces rice noodles (optional)
- Soak the dried mushrooms in a bowl with warm water for 5 minutes.
- Chop the fresh mushrooms into chunks. Don't cut them too thin.
- To a large pan with high edges or to a pot, add olive oil, finely chopped garlic, peeled and finely chopped ginger, finely chopped red chili pepper. Fry on low heat for a minute.
- Drain the dried mushroos, cut them into pieces if they are too large, and add them to the pan. Reserve the soaking water for later. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan.
- Add the soy sauce, season with salt and pepper, and let cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat until the mushrooms start releasing their water. Stir often.
- Add vegetable broth and the soaking water from the dried mushrooms, passing it through a sieve first.
- Bring to a light simmer, add diced tofu, and your vegetables of choice, chopped. Here we add asparagus and snow peas.Tip: at this stage you can also add rice noodles if you like.
- Let the tofu soup simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked.
- Taste, adjust for salt, and serve in a bowl. Garnish with scallions, cilantro and sesame oil (optional).